When I wrote yesterday’s blog post about Museum Next’s survey about attitudes to social media, I didn’t realise that the study was just one of a series of that Museum Next had recently completed. (As a testament to the value of social media, I was very quickly made aware of these additional studies when I posted a link to my blog on Twitter.)
There are in fact four surveys:
- What do people want from museums on Facebook? (results of an online survey)
- What do museums think Twitter is for? (responses from 361 museum professionals)
- Museums on Twitter (results of an online survey from non museum professionals)
- Social Media Audiences and the museum (which was the subject of yesterday’s post)
There are interesting similarities and differences between the results of the different surveys.
Whereas the social media audience survey appears to be of a random sample of UK residents, it looks like the other survey samples were more opportunistic. Thus the age spread does not reflect different age groups’ social media usage (as reported in the first survey), and women outnumber men by nearly 2 to 1! (I’m not sure if this means women are more interested in museums, more inclined to social media, or that they are more likely to complete online surveys, but I digress . . .)
Of the sample, 82% of respondents ‘like’ at least one museum on Facebook and nearly 90% follow at least one Museum on Twitter, with most following several (i.e. This survey population is clearly different from the social media audience survey, where only 10% of respondents were fans or followers. By contrast, this sample is highly aware and engaged, and findings should be considered in light of this).
The reasons respondents gave for liking or following were similar across both Facebook and Twitter, with the top three being: to learn about exhibitions and events (76% Facebook, 98.9% Twitter); to show support for the museum (64% Facebook, 51% Twitter); and to help promote the museum (47% Facebook 35% Twitter). Based on these percentages, people overwhelmingly use Twitter to get information and news about museums, whereas Facebook has a greater promotion / supporting role. This does make intuitive sense given the way that each platform works, in that Twitter is more immediate and open while Facebook is more about sharing between people you already know. Although interestingly, 93% of people said they would be more likely to visit an exhibition that a friend recommended on Twitter compared to 83% on Facebook, which would seem counter that interpretation.
Roughly half of respondents had visited the museums they liked or followed; a further 35-40% had visited ‘some of them’, indicating that the physical audience and the online audience do not completely overlap. This might mean that a proportion of people are happy to have a purely online relationship with a museum, even if they do not visit in person. (I would imagine the nonvisiting fans and followers live some distance from the museum, but this could be an incorrect assumption on my part.)
If this is the case, and there is a small but significant proportion of fans and followers who are unlikely to visit in person, this might have interesting implications for museums’ social media strategies – how can social media be used to add value for visitors and non-visitors alike?